Tuesday, November 9th, 2004, 8:00 PM

SOME PERSPECTIVES ON RELATIONSHIPS OF THEORY AND TECHNIQUE

presenter: William Grossman, M.D.
discussant: Robert Michels, M.D.

Questions concerning the nature of the relationship between theory and technique are often debated in terms of the varied systems in each. When certain systems are seen as related, we then ask how are they related? That is to say, are particular techniques derived from particular theories, and are particular theories derived from particular techniques? This paper offers a different perspective. Theorizing about clinical observation and technique is considered as a process. Rather than viewing the means for understanding patients clinically in terms of a relationship between systems (i.e. of theory and of technique), it is viewed in terms of dynamic processes.

From this point of view, theory and technique are two interacting ways of thinking and experiencing. Each is an ongoing creative activity that requires clinical as well as theoretical conceptions as background. Taking this perspective, it is the therapist who provides the link between theory and technique as the therapist’s theory influences and is influenced by the clinical activity. These views are presented here in broad strokes that sketch a terrain for inquiry. They are considered in terms of the individual therapist and individual theorist whose background, training, and group membership joins him to a “thought community” within which ideas about “subjectivity” and “objectivity” are shaped and sustained.